Venice Hotels Articles

July 8, 2010

References to The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, in popular culture and film

Perhaps the greatest popular culture reference to Williams Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in our history occurs in the very last episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” in the “Patient Abuse” sketch, written, actually, by Douglas Adams of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” fame.

In this sketch, the late, great Graham Chapman plays a doctor, who, from the first few seconds seeing him in the midst of a prior patient, you know he’s just silly. Enter Terry Jones as the patient, who is bleeding profusely and claims he was just now stabbed by the doctor’s nurse.

“Yes, she’s an unpredictable sort,” Chapman says. Then he hands Jones a form to fill out. “Hurry up and fill in that form,” he says. When Jones protests, asking if he might fill it in later, Chapman refuses, replying, “You’ll have bled to death by then.”

As Jones, still bleeding horribly of course, fills in the form, Chapman gets up and walks about his office nonchalantly, practicing his golf swing and his shooting, rambling on about how, “It’s a hell of a nuisance, all this damn paperworka real nightmare.”

When Jones, after struggling with the form, collapses onto the doctor’s table, apparently finished filling out the form, Chapman takes it from him and gives it a look.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear,” he says. “That’s not very good, is it?”

And that’s when the brilliant lines appears: “Surely you know number four! It’s from the Merchant of Venice. Even I knew that!”

Chapman continues to chastise Jones for his poor performance on the form, as the lovely Carole Cleveland enters as the nurse, brandishing a gun and claiming to have just shot a patient dead. Meanwhile, Jones is wiping his own blood from the doctor’s rug, saying, “Sorry about the carpet, doctor.” And Chapman tells him he and his nurse are going out to lunch.

“I’ll stop the bleeding,” Chapman promises, as Jones continues to beg the doctor to help him. “Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t even do that, you see, with marks like these.”

He then gives Jones another shot at the form as he steps out for lunch.

Another great one is The Merchant of Tennis, which is a pro tennis shop located in Toronto. They claim to have mastered “the art of stringing and professionally fitting clients with racquets and footwear.” There’s no indication of whether they use feline innards for their racquets. So, I personally wouldn’t shop there unless they stated that they indeed never use cats guts to make their tennis rackets.

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